I have been an intermittent reader of GRS and visitor to the forums. I have decided to register in order to start a fiscal fitness journal and I wanted to also share that my family is now debt free. Last year, in 2009, we paid off our last credit card debt with part of our tax return. With that out of the way, we put a baby emergency fund in place (I know, I know, we should have had one to start with, but my husband is military and our lives are pretty stable, so we slid by w/o it for a while) and began hacking away at my student loans, which were approximately $11k. We got the balance down to $7600 by the end of 2009, and also managed to deplete our emergency fund AND incur a little credit card debt thanks to my poor Christmas planning.
This January I filed our taxes ASAP and we got the biggest refund yet, the majority of which went to pay off the student loans. We also paid off that pesky $200 credit card debt, I removed the card from my wallet, and, in an effort to learn from my mistakes, I have opened a Christmas savings account that we are contributing $50/month to.
Now that we are debt-free and determined to stay that way, I have two short-term goals for myself and my family: to learn the fine art of budgeting once and for all, and to have a 6 month emergency fund in place by next January (w/ or w/o the assistance of our tax return.)
My fiscal fitness journal will be more extensive and detailed, if you're interested in tracking our progress and learning more.